THIS SMALL COUNTY WITH A SPARKLING COASTLINE portrays the ultimate images of southern California living: a herd of southern California teenagers swimming and tanning on a lazy summer day while vigorous surfers cut the waves, wealth and a bastion of conservative politics (either a blessing or a curse depending on your point of view), an onslaught of irreversible development on ridges, in valleys, coastal bluffs and citrus groves, protected wildlands in the Laguna Hills, the art town of Laguna Beach. Orange County ranks second in population of California's 58 counties and only 54th in land area.
For the adventurous walker Orange County offers more than image on its 44½-mile-long coast. Warm weather dominates the climate with a yearly daytime average of 70 degrees while the coast basks in cool ocean breezes. You can visit a truly laid back throwback of a small beach town, walk mile upon mile of warm sandy beaches past those lazy tanners, discover coastal land untouched by development, find some scenic uncrowded coves washed by clear clean water, come upon a rustic beach colony still intact from the 1920s and early 1930s, explore a significant wetland, wander around an art town and visit art galleries, visit five state parks and beaches and six piers. You can swim, snorkel and surf, or shop in the towns you pass. The Orange County Marine Institute offers information on the marine environment.
Orange County's Coastal Trail starts amid the laid back ambiance of Seal Beach. After a short detour around Anaheim Bay, a long wonderful beach walk stretches all the way to Balboa Pier. The route then turns inland, taking to the water on a brief ferry ride to Balboa Island. CCT returns to the beach at Crystal Cove State Park with the beach colony of rickety old cottages and 3½ miles of undeveloped coastline. The route then takes to the highway to pass a locked gate community blocking coastal access. The Coastal Trail then meanders on and off coves, beaches and streets all the way through Laguna Beach before again being forced to the highway by an exclusive, locked gate development in South Laguna. You once again hit the beach at Salt Creek Beach Park before walking over Dana Point, the last significant piece of unprotected open land on the Orange County coast. Beyond Dana Point Harbor the CCT hits the sand at Doheny State Beach. From here our route stays mostly on the beach through Capistrano Beach and San Clemente all the way to San Clemente State Beach just before the county line.
Explore the Trail
Click a section to discover more detailed information on pieces of the trail that can be explored within a day. Find highlights of what each area has to offer as well as other resources.